Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some thoughts on "call"

I was in the office of a church member this morning and she was almost in tears out of worry because a member of our church's nominating committee had asked her to lunch. She knew the reason for the invitation-she was going to be asked to be on Session (our governing body of elders). This is the season in the life of our congregation when folks are being approached by our nominating committee to "prayerfully consider" serving on Session.

This woman is one of those 20% of the congregation that does 80% of the work and is getting terribly burned out. She said that she and her significant other (who is currently on session) might take a year or so off from church work. Why do we do this to ourselves and to our most faithful members? I think that part of the reason is the way we tend to go about inviting people into ministry. We use words like volunteer and recruit, which makes it seem that the ministry is just about plugging in warm bodies to do certian jobs without regard to calling and giftedness. Women and men are not recruited by Christ, but rather called by Christ to particpate in his creative and redemptive work in the world.

I encouraged this woman to ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit as she reevaluates her ministy activities. I am sure that God is not calling her to drop out completely, but is calling her to be discerning as to where she spends her energy. Ministry is work and often can be a struggle, but when one is working within one's unique giftedness, it also is a great joy, full of meaning and purpose. This woman told me she feels like she "must say yes because I should be willing to do what's needed." I told her to stop "shoulding" on herself and stop "musterbating." (This is a church member I can say such things to!)

So, I pray for all of us whose "no" button is broken- that we might say "no" in order that we might say "yes" to Christ's call.


Nina Reeder said...

This is such a hard season. I feel sad for folks who want to serve and can't figure out what the calling of God looks and sounds like in their busy overscheduled lives. I feel sad for the church which needs the gifts and talents and treasure of disciples to be faithful to and answer God's call on the church's life.

One final thought - although we of the Reformed tradition know that God's call happens in every walk of life, we tend to push the church vocations a little harder than others. Who can blame us when the boiler won't light?

Iris said...

I am always struggling with finding a way to pastorally tell people that they are just too damn busy! Most of the time I carry no moral authority on this point because I'm just as prone to the busyness.

Unknown said...

Welcome to the revgalblogpals.

we are about to enter into the same season of nominating etc.
I like how you said that we are called not recruited. God I hope we remember that here.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Ugh...same issues happening over in my part of the church world. And I don't know the solution. There are lights that need replacing, windows that need washing, classes that need teachers...but I know you are right about "call" and finding our gifts and employing them.
It is a conundrum! (Boy oh boy, that was helpful, eh?) ;-)

Cat. said...

No is such a hard word to use. I actually had to invoke the NO this year ("Can you teach Sunday School...starting in 3 days...all year?") and I didn't feel guilty for the first time ever! Only because I'm on Session and co-leading the youth group. :-)

I've discovered that one of the best parts about being on Session is that no one calls to ask if you would consider being on Session (or Deacons!). And our church has a semi-rule that if one member of a family is currently doing either of those jobs, the whole family is off the Nominating Committee's list of possibilities. So we're safe, for another two years.

I really like the word "musterbating." May I use it in context with appropriate church members where I am?? :-)

Iris said...

Be my guest,Cat!

Linda said...

Just found your blog through a comment on St. Casserole's... regarding fallout from a big church in your presbytery that just left. I have a suspicion we're in the same town. I was going to e-mail you, but couldn't find an e-mail address. My blog is http://againstabrickwall.typepad.com/against_a_brick_wall. If you're up to playing six degrees of separation or something like that, feel free to e-mail me. Glad to have you join the RevGals. They're a fabulous group!